Hunted

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Chapter 2

Ethan lay awake, aware of every sound in the room, every second ticking by on the clock against the wall. He could hear his racing heart, the winds quiet whisper, and her steady breathing. Her head rested in the crook of his neck, he knew he had to leave and fast; all without waking her up. Slowly he pulled his shoulder from under her, gently setting her head down. As quietly as he could, he slipped out from under the covers and began getting dressed. He quickly buttoned his pants, and slipped on his shirt, unaware of the young woman watching him from the bed.

"James?" She rubbed her tired eyes, confused. "What are you doing? Where are you going?"

Ethan froze, what was he supposed to do? "I-I-I..." he struggled to think, without realizing what he was doing, he had turned to face her.

A quiet gasp escaped her, "You're not James." She whispered horrified, they stared into each other's eyes. His filled with guilt, her's brimming with tears; betrayal and terror shone in them. As Katherine was about to scream for help, she was pinned down against the bed. A hand clamped down on her mouth, she looked at the horrible man who had taken advantage of her, terrified of what he might do next.

"Please, don't yell. I mean you no harm." He whispered. No harm?! NO HARM?! He had just raped her, and he dared say he meant her no harm. Katherine grew angery under him, she started to struggle against his hold.

Ethan sighed, that had been a pretty stupid thing to say, given the situation they were in. "Listen to me carefully," he was already caught, might as well let her know what kind of monsters she was surrounded by, "you are not safe here. I was-let's say hired, to come in here and do this. Okay?" he looked down at her furious expression. Slowly in transitioned into confusion. "I know what I'm about to say will sound crazy, but I swear its the truth, and I will tell you all of it. If you promise not to scream." He looked at her pleadingly, hoping she agreed to here him out.

Katherine hesitated, what kind of nonsense was he going to try to sell her? She knew the sound thing to do was to try to get help, but something stopped her, instead she nodded. Agreeing to listen to him. He slowly removed his hand from her mouth, and climbed off of her. She grabbed the robe draped on the head board and put it on, pulling her legs in and curling into a ball against the pillows.

Ethan got up and paced the length of the bed, running his hands through his hair. "I'm in a serious bit of trouble right now with the law, someone is trying to frame me," he stopped pacing thinking over what he had just said, "actually, they've already framed me." he continued pacing, "And if I'm caught by the police, they will be successful in pinning something on me that I did not commit. As I was running away from the police, I happened to run onto this property. I hid here until dark, and that's when I was caught."

Katherine eyed him, her eyes following his every move. She listened carefully to his words, someting about his voice made her believe that he wasn't lying, or at least not completely. She just wished she could get a good look at him, it was rather dark and the only thing she had managed to see were his eyes when he had kept her quiet. He had the eyes a shade of green so deep, they were unlike any she had ever seen. When he resumed speaking she hugged herself tighter, remembering his touch earlier. It made her skin crawl.

"I was then introduced to the owner of the house, your Mother-in-law, lovely person that woman," he added bitterly, "and when I explained my situation to her, she threatened to hand me over to the police. That is, unless I did a favor for her." He stopped pacing and turned to look at her, Katherine's eyes grew wide. Her body shaking in fear and disgust at what he was suggesting. "She proposed that if I were to sleep with her daughter-in-law, I would be let go free."

"Well how convienent for you, huh?" Katherine spat out, refusing to believe such a proposterous thing. He had to be lying.

"I swear I didn't want to! I told her she was crazy and that I couldn't do such a thing!" He defended. "But she said that she wanted a grandchild, and that her son couldn't do it, so it was this or death row."

Tears spilled out of her eyes, this couldn't be happening to her, she thought. Every bit of her that was trying to keep her sane said that this was just all a bad dream. The cry of sirens in the distance turned her attention to the window leading out into the balcony.

"Please, you have to help me." Ethan begger her, she looked at him; fury, fear, sadness, all enveloping her.

"Why should I help you?" She whispered, tugging her rober tighter around her, staring down at the ruffled bed sheets.

"You shouldn't." He answered saddly. Katherine hadn't expected that answer, her eyes looked up to see his hunched over figure leaning against the wall. Ethan stood as far away as he could from the woman he had hurt, he couldn't bare to look at her. "But I ask for your help nonetheless," he shook his head at himself, "how pathetic and cowardly." he whispered to himself.

Katherine barely heard his whisper, but she heard it nonetheless. Inside her, she felt her heart tug at the saddness in his voice. She still hated the horrible being that stood in her room, but the voices she heard outside of her room redirected her anger.

"Go bring the officers!" Ethan and Katherine both looked at the bedroom door, Ethan defeated and dejected, Katherine furious. She was not going to give that heinous woman the statisfaction. She had given Katherine over to a stranger, all for her selfish wants, she was not going to let her win by putting away her puppet as well.

"Follow me." Ethan heard the young woman whisper as she quickly slipped out of the bed. Her footsteps were light and inaudible, he tried his best to follow suit. Yet his shoes still creaked, and his heart raced with every step. Could he trust this woman? After what he'd done, he wouldn't be surprised if she pushed him off the balcony to his death.

Katherine tied the robe tight on her, yet as she walked into the bathroom is still moved and swayed loose on her body. Nothing would ever be able to cover her enough, nothing would ever protect her body and it's dark secret. She heard Ethan trying to walk quietly behind her, but failed miserably.

She shook her head and turned on the lights to the bathroom, she quickly walked over to the large tub in the center of the enourmous room. She turned the knobs and let the water flow, she held her hand under the stream, adjusting the temperature. Once that was set, she walked over to where Ethan lingered in the doorway. She pushed him in and closed the doors behind him.

"Um, what's the plan?" He asked uncertain what her actions meant. Why would she turn the water on? Was she going to try to drown him?

"This corner of the house has two balconies," She began explaining, while walking around the bathroom, finding things to prepare her bath, "one out in the bed room," she pointed to the doors leading out into the bedroom, "and one in here facing the back gardens." She gestured in the direction of the large windows the opened up into the back balcony.

"This balcony is covered with vines from the tree the grows parallel to the wall, it's branches cover the wall and the balcony. I use it sometimes to climb down into the garden late at night." She answered throwing some bubble bath liquid into the filling tub. "You can climb down the tree, and carefully make your way across the garden to the back wall. Once you're over that there's a little town you a couple of miles down the road. From there you can probably get a ride into the city." She answered walking to a shelf in the back, without really looking she grabbed a book and carefully set it on the granite space beside the tub.

"Okay but what's all this?" Ethan asked gesturing at the tub and her movements.

She brushed passed him, opened the bathroom doors, and quickly ran to the doors leading to the balcony in the bedroom. She glanced at her cold bed and shivered, the voices getting louder as people climbed up the stairs sent her running back into the bathroom. She closed the bathroom doors once more, she pressed her back agaisnt them and searched the room for the man.

Her eyes landed on the young man looking at the book in his hands, it was the first time she had truly looked at him. The room had been too dark, and early she was to distracted trying to set everything up. He was tall, he had a strong but lean build; his hair dark and short.

Ethan heard her rush back in, he looked at the book in his hands; Angels in Pink. He didn't expect something so simple, he thought she surely was the type to read long intricate novels, perhaps Frankenstein? When he didn't hear movement, he looked up behind him. When he realized she was staring at him, he straightened up. Carefully he set the book back down.

"Sorry, I shouldn't have take the liberty." He apologized sheepish.

Katherine shook her head, she had forgotten the mess at hand when he had turned his eyes to her. "You don't have a lot of time, they will be at the top of the stairs in seconds, and at the door in a minute." She walked over to the balcony doors, she opened them and stepped outside. Ethan walked over when she beckoned.

"As you climb down, I will be in the tub doing some light reading; when they barge in they'll have to step out in order to give me sometime to 'get decent'," she explained using air quotes, "that will buy you some time to get down and out of here." She finished explaining, Ethan felt nothing but guilt. Even at her worst, the woman in front of him was so kind. He felt dead on the inside, knowing he had scarred her forever.

"Thank you." He whispered stepping out and sitting on the edge of the concrete rail. Katherine stepped back inside the doorway, staring at the man on the edge. She didn't know how to respond, what was she supposed to say in a situation like this?

"Go." She whispered, looking behind her. When she turned to face back outside the young man was gone, she stepped back out and peeked over the edge. She saw his dark figure descend, quickly she ran back inside and closed the balcony doors. She stared at herself in the mirror, she looked like a mess; a small preview of how she felt on the inside.

Knocking on her bedroom doors snapped her attention in the direction of the bathroom doors, sighing she undid her robe and let it slip off her shoulders to the ground. She shut the water and stepped into the warm tub, letting the bubbles cover her body. She grabbed her book and opened it to a random page. She tried to read, but kept reading the first sentence. She sighed, hopefully it looked like she was reading. She flinched at the sound of her bedrooms doors being thrown open, and the patter of feet piling in.

"Katherine!" Someone shouted. She remained silent.

Out in the garden Ethan did his best to remain hidden, he crouched by a bush; a couple of feet away from the wall. He stole a glance to the woman's window, her light was still on; she truly was helping him, making him feel like complete trash. He looked away sorrowful, and ran the last few feet to the wall. Mindful of his injuries, he made it over the wall and into the woods. With a quick pause to steady his breathing, he took off trying to find the street and a way of the place.

The police officers inspected the whole room, finding the balcony windows open, they rushed out to search for the culprit. They found nothing and no one, they didn't think it was possible for him to climb two stories down from here so they moved on. Light shone from the bathroom, the officer in command threw open the doors and stepped in, only to be recieved by a shrieking woman.

Katherine threw her book across the room, and sunk lower into the tub, trying to cover herself. "Who are you!? What are you doing?! Why are you here?!" she shouted horrified. It wasn't hard to pretend, she truly was horrified. They could've at least knocked.

The police officer stuttered flustered, "W-we're so sorry miss. I-i-it's just that w-we-" he tried to explain but Katherine interrupted him with her shouting.

"Get out! Get out!" she shouted covering herself with her arms.

"Y-yes miss." The officer apologized and stepped out. He turned and faced the old woman.

"She's in there." He said stupidly.

"Well of course SHE is, but what about HIM." She asked irritated.

"I didn't see him m'am." He shook his head. The woman shook her head frustrated.

"Katherine, are you dressed?" She barked through the door.

"One second please." Katherine answered, drying herself with a towel, and then slipping on her slippers and robe. She walked over to the doors, opening them to be greeted by at least a dozen people. Her mother-in-law, the groundskeeper, the butler, her Nana, and a handful of police officers.

"What on earth is going on?" She asked securing her robe tighter.

"Are you alright dear?" Her Nana asked grabbing her arms and inspecting her to check for any injuries. Katherine pulled away, crossing her arms.

"I'm fine, what I would like to know is what all of you are doing in my chambers?!" She snapped.

"There has been an intruder." The groundskeeper answered, keeping his eyes low. She was thankful for that, he and the butler were the only ones who seemed to realize they had just barged in on her nude. They were trying to show respect by keeping their gaze low.

"What? Here? How?" Katherine asked confused.

"He seemed to have snuck in while you all slept miss," The leading officer answered, standing a bit too close for Katherine's liking, "you haven't happened to have seen him, have you?" He asked eyeing her carefully.

Katherine looked at him with distaste, "No." She stated, tugging at her robe; pulling it further down. She turned to face the crowd, "I haven't left my room and I've been in here most of the time," She motioned behind her to the tub, "Perhaps you should ask my husband," Katherine tried to not spit the word disdain, but it was laced with contempt nonetheless, "last I saw him he was in bed asleep." She nodded her head to the bed behind them.

"He must be out with the staff searching the grounds." Ms. Williams quickly interjected. Katherine's head snapped in her direction, and she couldn't help but glare at her. How she do this to her?

The police officer looked back at the young woman in the doorway, "Would it be alright if we took a look inside?" He asked pointing into the bathroom.

"You already took more than a look," Katherine snapped at him, she straightened herself, "but go ahead." The police officer had the decency to look ashamed, and ordered two officers to step inside and inspect the place.

"There's no sign of him,sir." They answered stepping back outside.

"Yes well, let's search the rest of the property. He couldn't have gotten far." the officer cleared his throat, and awkwardly bowed to Katherine, "Sorry for the inconvienence miss." Katherine crossed her arms, and watched them as they filed out the door.

Ms. Williams stood in front of Katherine, "James slept...here?" She questioned. Katherine glared at the old woman.

"He did." she finally answered after seconds of silence. She nodded approvingly, Katherine felt like ripping her to shreds. She turned and left the room to follow the police officers, irritated with her escaped guest.

Katherine and her Nana were left alone in her room, as soon as Emily had closed the doors, Katherine collapsed to the floor crying. Emily rushed over to her craddling her, "Katherine what's wrong?" She asked her voice filled with worry.

"Everything." Katherine cried into her motherly figure, her Nana.

"What do you mean darling?" Emily asked stroking her hair, trying to calm her down.

Katherine let herself be soothed, resting her head on her Nana's shoulder. Her eyes staring up at the bed a couple of feet away. Tears rolled down her cheeks, her body shook uncontrollaby, Emily held her child her concern growing by the second.

"I should go call a doctor." She said trying to stand.

"No!" Katherin shouted pulling her back down. Emily stared into her eyes, they were filled with a sadness and fear like she had never seen.

"Katherine what's wrong?' Emily asked sternly.

Katherine stared at the bed, "Everything." She repeated resting her head in her Nana's lap, Emily stroked her back gently. She wondered what on earth happened to her child, she sat there concerned. Unsure of what to do.

Katherine lay on the floor, tears filling her eyes, unsure of how to continue living in this nightmare.

Ethan sat in the passenger seat of a truck, on his way back to the city; he had to find a way out, a place to hide until he could clear his name. He stared out the window, unsure of where to go.

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